Posts Tagged ‘china town’

Last night I was craving some Chinese beef noodle soup and since we were already in the International District, I turned to my trusty and increasingly prevalent tool, social media!  Smart phones and social media are such a double-sided sword these days in that they’re extremely useful to look up information at a moment’s notice, but at the same time they turn individuals into zombies! “…must….check…status…updates…!” Anyways, to make a long story short, I searched “beef noodle” in my “foodie” app got a ton of nearby restaurants. Mike’s Noodle House stood out with the highest numbers of reviews and overall high rating. It’s located on Maynard Ave S. between Jackson and King. Stepping inside, I immediately noticed two things: it’s very small and very clean. I did a rough count and estimate the max capacity to be about 34, but all the furnishings looked fairly new and well maintained. We were quickly seated next to the door and given our menus.


entrance off maynard ave s


nothin’ to hide here!

The Food:


chinese “donut” $1.7

These aren’t the Americanized Chinese donuts you find at buffets, that are drowned in sugar, these are actually you tiaowhich translated literally means “oil sticks.” They’re traditionally eaten at breakfast with congee, soymilk and/or between “shao bing.” They weren’t as crispy as I’d like, and carried a more salty flavor with an subtly sweet aftertaste.


chinese broccoli with oyster sauce $4.5

In an effort to maintain a balanced meal, we ordered the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. They were prepared excellently with a rich green color and a nice crunch. Many times, these can be overcooked which makes them softer with a less appealing bite. The bitterness was cooked down nicely and the oyster sauce countered with a strong savory sweet flavor.


brisket noodle soup $6.1

When it comes to beef noodle soup, there are two traditional variations; clear broth and dark broth. I myself prefer the dark broth, also called, hong shao niu rou mian, or as I call it, 紅燒牛肉麵. The dark color comes from the use of soy sauce. For me, the most important aspect of a good noodle soup is the broth and the broth at Mike’s is, dare i say, almost as good as 我媽媽的 (momma’s)! It was extremely rich and flavorful with deep flavors of the soy, star anise, and spices. I put a dollop chili paste to appease my spicy-tooth. The brisket was almost fall-apart on its own tender and also carried awesome flavor from the many hours of braising. Everything about the broth and beef was an A…. the only thing I would I preferred differently were the noodles. I prefer the fresh hand pulled Chinese rice noodles which tend to be fatter, as opposed to the skinny egg noodles they serve here.  They were also under cooked requiring some diligence to cut between your tongue and teeth – unless you’re eating naengmyeon breaking noodles shouldn’t require extra efforts.


i had stop when i hit plastic…

My Conclusion:

I love noodles. My mom loves noodles too, and growing up in a Chinese home, you could say she passed it down to me… I guess I “got it from my 媽媽!” I may even consider myself a noodle snob! That being said, Mike’s Noodle House definitely brings their A-game with what they serve. But, the true test is what my mom thinks when I bring her here next time… stay tuned!

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Seeing as it was Labor Day weekend, Cherry and I decided to make take a day trip north, to visit the United States’ red-headed step sister – Canada. Oh, we also have family in Vancouver, so aside from a day of eating; we actually had a reason to visit  Our first stop after the crossing immigrations… Richmond! Just to give you an idea of how great Richmond is, it is essentially your local “Chinatown” district stretched over 49.91 sq mi (127.3 km² for the rest of the World.) The streets are lined with Asian influenced shops, restaurants and businesses (primarily all Chinese.) One thing in particular that Richmond has over Seattle, I’m sad to say, is a much larger selection of All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) Sushi spots. As a matter of fact, unless I’m badly mistaken, I can count on one hand how many AYCE sushi restaurants there are in Seattle – what’s up with that Seattle!? During my undergrad years at WWU, my father and I would regularly come to Aji Taro and in reminiscent fashion, I decided to bring Cherry here as well. Located off No. 3 Road in Richmond, Aji Taro is a moderately sized Japanese Bistro. Contrary Americanized Sushi (what’s becoming more and more popular in the States) you won’t find fancy and spruced up rolls or sushi. No tempura fried sushi. No spicy mayo. Just Japanese food as it is meant to be – simple.

small sushi bar

make your selections



The Food:

house special roll (salmon, krab, cucumber, avocado), dynamite roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, lettuce), california roll, spicy tuna roll

 The first worth noting is the amount of filling used here. I have eaten at many sushi places that give a minuscule amount of filling and an enormous amount of rice. Particularly in the House Special Roll, there’s a nice slice of salmon sashimi, and a generous amount of krab filling. In the Dynamite roll, two pieces of tempura shrimp are used as opposed to the one piece that you will find in a majority of other places. All the rolls were tasty and really satisfy. The spicy tuna roll had a perfect amount of spice and left a subtle heat on your tongue.

 salmon and tuna sushi

 Both the salmon and tuna were very fresh and clean. They served albacore tuna instead of the more common yellowtail which is a little fattier and traditionally has a lighter flavor. Both were generously sliced and very delicious.

 chopped scallop

 spicy tuna hand rolls

 Hand rolls are exactly that – shari (vinegared rice) and filling wrapped in nori. They usually come out in a cone shape and are fun to eat! The chopped scallop was fresh and had a creamy flavor and texture from the mayo and tobiko  that it was mixed with. The spicy salmon also had great flavors. The spice level was nice and did not overpower the salmon at all – the freshness of the fish was not masked.

 clockwise l-r: agedashi tofu, ika karaage, shishamo karaage, beef short ribs

The agedashi tofu was deep fried and carried a light flavor, but there was virtually no tentsuyu sauce (tempura dipping sauce.) The ika karaage (deep fried squid) was not very tasty. It had a pretty fishy flavor – I’m guessing due to them using the same oil to deep fry all their fish. I can tolerate most flavors, however Cherry was hugely turned off by how fishy the calamari was. There were also flavors of salt and pepper that I could taste that was most likely tossed in before serving. The short ribs were flavorful and tender and one of the better non-sushi items served. The shishamo karaage was also average – lightly battered and deep fried little fish with roe intact providing a salty and fishy bite.


clockwise l-r: sanma shioyaki, yaki tori, shime saba

 The sanma shioyaki (pacific saury) had very clean flavor and nice char from the grill – not fishy at all. The yakitori was also very good and simple – skewered and gilled chicken brushed with some teriyaki sauce. My favorite of the three was the shime saba (mackerel.) Extremely clean flavors and the grilled skin of the fish was like a crispy chip – providing a nice salty crunch. I had to exercise caution when eating these fish due to the small bones throughout.

My Conclusion:

Not the pinnacle of the sushi world but that’s ok by me. Everything is made to order and literally within five or ten minutes of handing the server your selections, its on your table straight from the sushi bar. With a price of $14.95 (CND) per person (for lunch), it is a bargain – even with the US dollar being worth less than the Canadian dollar these days!  Aji Taro did my father and I well from 2006 – 2010 and still continues to satisfy my sushi fixins’ anytime we visit! 

Ohh.. and this was our lunch… stay tuned for what we had for dinner!




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